Newly-released sales figures have shown a boost in retail sales of fresh lamb in Britain during the spring and early summer.
Consumer spending on lamb across all GB retailers increased by 19.2% to £139.6 million, when compared to the same period in 2019.
High street butchers saw a large increase in fresh lamb sales - 45.5 percent higher than last year.
This is according to data compiled by Kantar Worldpanel, which shows figures for the 12-week period up until 12 July.
They show strong retail performance for the independent butcher shop sector since the start of the lockdown and social distancing.
But there was also significant sales growth for lamb in all types of supermarkets, including premium stores and discount chains.
The figures suggest that the rise in sales is due to people buying lamb for the first time, or coming back to lamb, rather than existing consumers purchasing more.
Kantar’s data show a small fall in the volume bought per buyer, but this was more than offset by a 13.9% increase in the total number of consumers buying fresh lamb during the 12-week period.
Households with children saw a significant increase of 25.7% in the volume of lamb purchased, as did households with three or more members (up 21.3%).
Among the different lamb products, mince saw an increase in purchases - up 35.1% on last year - as consumers looked to buy staple products during the lockdown.
However, there was also a 25.2% jump in demand for chops and steaks compared with 2019, with these higher-value cuts accounting for over 30% of the total volume of lamb sold.
Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) said the figures were positive news as retail sales were helping to make up for the fall in trade from the eating out sector.
Consumers also responded very well to marketing campaigns encouraging people to try new PGI Welsh Lamb recipes at home.
HCC’s data analyst Glesni Phillips said: “It’s pleasing to see such strong spending on lamb across a variety of retail outlets, with no sign of the demand subsiding as we get into July.
"The most encouraging aspect of these data is that new consumers, particularly the larger households such as families with children who have been key targets of promotional campaigns, seem to be trying fresh lamb."
This year HCC has launched campaigns in the early months of the year to promote the green credentials of livestock farming, and a dedicated campaign in response to the lockdown.
Its latest campaign was launched on 1 August, with a key message of encouraging consumers to try new recipes with PGI Welsh Lamb in their own kitchens.
“It’s still vital that we support the lamb sector as we head into our seasonal peak of production in Wales, given the potential uncertainties around both COVID and post-Brexit trade," Ms Phillips said.